Many people don't know that I started my professional days as an illustrator. My extensive work hand-rendering typography and designing commercial work years ago have carried forward into my present art, grounding and informing my design capabilities.
A few have asked recently about some of the music packaging I've made over the years. This has been a major passion of mine - the artwork along with the music - and so I'm posting some of the album/CD art I've done over the years. It's a small sampling of the dozens of published and hundreds of unpublished music packages I've created. Click the images to see them nice and large.
Perhaps my favorite cover, this was the second recording of Guy Klucevsek's that I worked on. It was the largest object I ever made, and stands still in Guy's home in Staten Island. There are some funny details in the piece, such as the tall blond violinist in the Bantam Orchestra being rendered here - well - blond. I also made the central figure, or Guy, left-handed! It seemed right to me, I'm lefty! Oops. The CD has been out of print for many years as the Swiss label RecRec folded, but I'm told there are plans for a reissue. I hope so, as it's also my favorite recording by my good friend (even without the artwork!).
A more recent piece for Guy, this one happily in print on the Tzadik label, John Zorn's wildly eclectic imprint in NYC. The image is a detail from Handflower, a digital work Guy requested for his CD.
A very early mixed-media painting done for The Tannahill Weavers' best-of collection back in 1989. The Tannahill's are one of Scotland's most venerable traditional ensembles, and doing this artwork made me a huge fan of their music. I made scores of LP and CD packages for the now-defunct Green Linnet record label which had the market cornered on Irish and Scottish music in the US.
Another Green Linnet release, this time by the illustrious bard Andy M. Stewart. It was also my intro to the beautiful and lyrical work of the poet Robert Burns. This piece is in the collection of one of my closest friends, Arthur Burke.
Another thrilling project, this was a fold-out cover for the legendary Hungarian band Muzsikás (you may remember the lead singer Márta Sebestyén's voice floating through the soundtrack to The English Patient). The music was a reconstruction of the Hungarian Jews' music from the early part of the century. All the original musicians who played this Jewish music were wiped out in the Holocaust, and Muzsikás researched extensively, finding gypsys who had played their own music to the Jews and were able to piece together what the Jewish music was like from them. Absolutely chilling and powerful, it was a project I'm really proud to have been a part of. The luminary folk/rock music producer Joe Boyd owns this illuminated box artwork.
One of the most insanely talented men I know, Andy Rinehart's CD Pillbox is a collision of a dozen different genres. Wild and beautiful stuff.
Here's a curve-ball. In my record-store pawings back in the 80's, I started finding absolutely incredible albums by the famous Ferrante & Teicher. Most people know them as the apitome of the Muzak sound, but there was a time - before they hit it really huge - when they were absorbed in the wildest mix of experimental pop around. They jammed nuts and bolts into the piano strings, a-la John Cage, and played whip-fast arrangements of show tunes and jazz standards, that are simply like nothing else ever made before or since. It remains some of my favorite music from the 1950's and is still largely unknown by today's audience. I struck up a friendship with their manager Scott Smith (hi Scott!) and was lucky enough to make the artwork for this release of their earliest and, amazingly, only original recording (from 1948), and I even got to contribute a meaty essay in the booklet. This is a combination of airbrush and computer work.
A recent cover done for my good friend and an avant-garde jazz master, Phillip Johnston and his Microscopic Sextet. Funny, poignant and amazingly arranged. The title is a sardonic take on the standard 'Lester Leaps In.' Features a mind-blowing found snapshot of an empty pool where I wanna swim forever. Thanks to my friend Ty for the polaroid!
Another, even more recent piece for Phillip, this time one of his excellent silent film scores, the Japanese horror film 'Page of Madness'. It's a hallucinatory story set in a madhouse. The cover image is massively blown up from a film still of the eye of a Japanese Noh theatre mask that plays a major role in the film.
Although these next two are unpublished, I couldn't resist adding them, as they are artwork for my own musical experiments, dating from 1986 to about 2003. The Collective Ear was really just that, a loose collective of people, with the two core members of myself and buddy Nick Osborn. Check out his Square America website for weeks, literally, of incredible vernacular images he's been amassing over the years.
A simple, but moody image shot from the back seat of Tracy Moore's car as it traveled through his home town of Issaquah, Washington. This was the art for a reworking of old Collective Ear tracks that I remixed and played with.
I hope you enjoyed this one-off post. It's nice to see this stuff in one place.